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New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton stands next to his campaign bus at the Bathurst subway station in Toronto on Sept. 29, 2008. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)
New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton stands next to his campaign bus at the Bathurst subway station in Toronto on Sept. 29, 2008. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)

NDP name change wouldn't hurt: poll Add to ...

A new poll suggests a name change for the NDP likely wouldn't hurt the party - and could help it.

At its convention in Halifax this weekend, the party will look at dropping the "New" and becoming simply the Democratic Party.

A Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press suggests it's not a concept that has galvanized Canadians.

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But Jeff Walker, Harris-Decima vice-president, says it doesn't pose any obvious political risk.

The poll found 36 per cent of those who had an opinion on the issue thought it's a good idea, while 31 per cent found it a bad idea.

"Making changes to a brand name that has broad public recognition poses risks and the data suggest there is a fairly high level of uncertainty about the change," Mr. Walker said.

"Over time, using the word 'new' is a little bit odd. That's true whether it's a product or whether it's a service and it's true with a political party too. Eventually the word 'new' doesn't make sense."

Leader Jack Layton has made that argument in support of the change.

The NDP has had its name since 1961, when the old Co-operative Commonwealth Federation decided to re-brand itself.

The poll suggests the change would have little effect on voting intentions.

Few Conservative, Liberal or Green supporters said the change would make them more likely to support the re-named NDP.

The vast majority of NDP-inclined voters also said the change have no impact on their vote, but 13 per cent said it would make them more likely to vote for the party.

"If I were the NDP, I'd be thinking not just what can I gain, but what's the near-term downside," Mr. Walker said. "What the data tells me is there's not a ton of near-term downside."

The poll, part of an omnibus phone survey of just over 1,000 people, was conducted Aug. 6-9 and is considered to be accurate within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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